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  WINDY CITY TIMES

LGBT Education bill passes Illinois Senate
by Matt Simonette
2018-05-02

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The Illinois Senate passed the Inclusive Curriculum Bill—legislation calling for the inclusion of LGBT-related historical events and contributions in state classrooms—on May 2.

The Senate passed the bill 34-18, with two Republican legislators crossing the aisle to vote in its favor. The legislation, whose chief sponsor is state Senator Heather Steans, D-Chicago, now heads for the state House, where advocates hope to see a vote before the end of the current session on May 31.

Supporters of the LGBT-rights advocacy Equality Illinois, which has been pushing for the bill alongside organizations including Illinois Safe Schools Alliance and the Legacy Project, lobbied for the bill at the Illinois Statehouse on its April 11 "lobby day."

Equality Illinois CEO Brian Johnson told Windy City Times later that week that, "We're just trying to write that law so that all Illinois kids, regardless of their sexual identity, will get an understanding that LGBTQ people have always been part of history and have always been part of making our current society the great place that it is."

Illinois would be the second state in the union, after California, to have an LGBT-inclusive curriculum if the legislation is passed.

From an Equality Illinois news release:

ILLINOIS SENATE PASSES LGBTQ INCLUSIVE CURRICULUM BILL

House to take up measure that helps all students have fuller understanding of history

SPRINGFIELD—On a bipartisan roll call, the Illinois Senate passed the Inclusive Curriculum Bill on Wednesday, sending the measure calling for the inclusion of historical events and contributions by LGBTQ people to the state House.

The Senate voted 34-18 for the Inclusive Curriculum Bill, SB 3249, sponsored by state Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago, with two Republicans joining 32 Democrats in support of the bill.

The bill is an initiative of Equality Illinois, the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, and the Legacy Project and is supported by the Illinois State Board of Education and a broad coalition of statewide and local educational, civil rights, health, and civic organizations who hope to see a vote in the House before the end of the spring legislative session on May 31. The House sponsor is state Rep. Anna Moeller of Elgin.

An LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum can have a positive effect on students' self-image and make their peers more accepting, and it would get Illinois closer to being a state that tells the whole story of our shared history. The teaching of history has been set a little too straight. LGBTQ identities have been erased by omission. Now, it is time for our public schools in Illinois to tell the whole story.

The Illinois School Code already ensures inclusion in history curriculum of the contributions and experiences of other historically marginalized communities, including of people of color, women, immigrant communities, and people with disabilities, so SB 3249 is consistent with current state law.

Since there is currently no requirement to include the roles and contributions of LGBTQ people in the Illinois School Code, the historical representation of LGBTQ people, events, and contributions is not discussed in most classrooms across the state.

Some examples: The nation's first gay rights organization, the Society for Human Rights, was formed in 1924 in Chicago. Illinoisan Jane Addams, the mother of social work, founder of the Hull House, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, was in a committed 40-year relationship with her partner, Mary Rozet Smith. The organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, was a gay man. And Sally Ride, the first U.S. woman in space, was a lesbian.

Here is a complete list of the organizations that support the LGBTQ Inclusive Curriculum Bill:

Equality Illinois

Illinois Safe Schools Alliance

The Legacy Project

ACLU of Illinois

Adler University

African-American Lesbian Professionals Having A Say (Quad Cities)

AIDS Foundation of Chicago

Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital

Anti-Defamation League

Asian-Americans Advancing Justice - Chicago

Association of Latinos/as Motivating Action (ALMA) Chicago

Broadway Youth Center, a Program of Howard Brown Health

Central Illinois Pride Health Center

Chicago Gay Men's Chorus

Chicago History Museum

Chicago Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights

Chicago Teachers Union

Citizen Action/Illinois

Howard Brown Health Center

Illinois Association of School Social Workers

Illinois Federation of Teachers

Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center

Illinois School Counselor Association

Illinois State Board of Education

Legal Council for Health Justice

National Association of Social Workers — Illinois Chapter

Peoria Proud

PFLAG Belleville

PFLAG Charleston

PFLAG Council of Northern Illinois

Phoenix Center (Springfield)

Planned Parenthood of Illinois

Prairie Pride Coalition (Bloomington-Normal)

Pride Action Tank

Rainbow Cafe (Carbondale)

United Food & Commercial Workers Local 881


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